A quick note before we get started – this post is written for those that have websites that are active, constantly changing, and are mission-critical to their businesses. It is not for websites that are just a digital billboard for a company or for a low volume blog site. In these cases, you can spend a lot less.
Owning and operating a website is serious business and a good investment. The internet can feel overwhelming at times, especially when it comes to investigating the costs to maintain a WordPress website. Some companies claim they can maintain your site for as little as $250 a year, while others can charge $5,000 a year or more for comprehensive services.
What you might not realize is that whatever projected budget you have, you’ll probably spend more, especially if you are using an inexpensive service. You should seriously consider companies that include comprehensive WordPress maintenance and hosting services for a single fee. A comprehensive plan will cover the costs you may not even be considering. Think of owning a website in the same way as you think about owning a car. The price of the car might fit your initial budget, but there are always ongoing costs that will add up down the road. Things like repairs, oil changes, brake pads, maintenance, and more. When you buy a car from a premium dealer, most, if not all of these costs are covered under their extended warranty and service plans.
This article was written to help you understand the true costs of maintaining a website. While this post focuses on WordPress websites (WordPress is by far the most popular Content Management System – powering over 30% of sites worldwide), this information is useful for other platforms as well. You’ll want to tune in as we discuss the major problems around investing in cheap hosting and reveal solutions that will work for you and your website for the long haul.
What is the actual cost of maintaining a website?
We’ve broken down the costs into five major categories to make it easier for you to read and understand. While reading the following sections remember, if you don’t choose a website host that is reputable with solid security, you risk the health and wellness (yes, it’s a thing) of your website.
1. Hosting & Security- Estimate $1,200 – $1,800 annually
You may have asked yourself, “Should I buy cheap website hosting and invest the savings in website design?” or maybe you’ve told yourself, “I’ll invest my money in premium hosting from the start and update later.”
Hopefully, you have come to the conclusion that it is not a good idea to save a few dollars a month with inexpensive hosting and security. The main reason is with cheap hosting you run the risk of slow load times, excessive downtime, server outages or in a worst-case scenario, a hacked website that could cost you thousands of dollars and seriously damage your business’s reputation.
If you have a business website with high traffic, engaged inquiries or sell products on your website, you should only consider premium managed WordPress hosting. Your mission-critical website should be protected just like any of your other valuable assets. You’d never consider having an expensive car parked in a cheap garage, with no security system and you should never have your website with a cheap, unsecure host. With premium managed hosting, your site will do more for you and your business. And you’ll sleep better to boot!
With a budget between $1200 and $1800 annually, you can expect enhanced security, essentially no downtime, excellent tech support, and customer service as well as more powerful and efficient software updates. It is definitely worth the investment to keep your website safe and running at peak performance.
2. Content & Design updates – $2,000 – $6,000 annually
As your business changes and evolves, so will your website. It’s critical to keep your content up-to-date and relevant. In addition, you’ll want to make sure your site is current with the latest trends, design elements and other features that enhance the value, readability and “user-friendliness” of your website.
As a business owner, you know all too well that there are unforeseen changes that happen regularly. You might need to add a new service or product to your site, you might need a site makeover with updated, SEO integrated web content, and you most certainly will need tech updates, design changes and features added – just to make sure you don’t fall behind your competition. For all of these changes, you’ll, of course, want to hire an expert. Content is King (or Queen), and a good writer will charge their worth, so budgeting enough to fall back on year after year will keep your website accurate, fresh, updated, clean and aesthetically pleasing.
3. Registrations & SSL Certificates – $10 to $500 annually
One of the biggest rookie mistakes is to buy a domain name and forget to register it annually. Along with your domain name registration prepaid for a year or more, you’ll most certainly want an SSL security certificate that will protect your website against the deep dark web while also enhancing your overall SEO results.
4. Software Plugins & Themes – $250 to $1,000 annually
As you maneuver through the website design process you’ll want to use and install various WordPress website plugins to give your site the function, tools and design aspects that you want to integrate. While third-party plugins are often free, you will usually need to pay for them, especially for those with premium features. Some offer a one-time payment; others require monthly or annual payments.
You will also choose a theme for your website. As you know, themes are templates that dictate the layout and style of your website. They show you how your website will look before you load pictures, content and information. Consider the cost of renewal fees for the theme you are using.
5. Marketing Strategy & Analytics – $1,000 – $3,000 annually
Marketing and analytics are incredibly important for your website. Not only will you want to see how the website is performing on a monthly basis, but you’ll also want to consider hiring an expert to track and enhance your SEO, increase your site traffic and perhaps manage a paid advertising campaign. By hiring an expert or consulting agency, you are investing in lead generation for more customers which means more money for you and your business.
A good marketing and analyst professional will find areas where improvements can be made on your site, dabble in social media marketing, explore ads and of course track the numbers, data and information about your visitors to make targeting more efficient.
6. WordPress Site Maintenance- $600 – $3,000 annually
WordPress site maintenance will run around $600 to $3,000 annually, depending on your site’s complexity. In order to keep your website in the best shape possible, you will want problems with security, plugins and other areas to be fixed immediately. You can easily spend several hours a month making sure your plugins and themes are updated, your site is backed up, your databases are optimized and managing all the other tasks needed to keep your site running strong. For business owners, the time spent managing these activities is time not spent on taking care of your customers and growing your business. In short, you’ll end up spending a lot more doing it yourself versus hiring a professional to maintain your site.
As a final note, keep in mind that if your business is like most businesses, your website is one of your most important assets. While it may seem like any other cost of doing business, remember, your website is not an expense of your business; it’s an investment in your business. Your website is your virtual storefront and in many cases, your only storefront. Never skimp on website maintenance costs. Your site should be up to date and operate at peak performance, at all times.
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to hear more about who we are and the WordPress services and solutions we provide for businesses like yours, let us know!